Vehicles | January 9, 2017 9:00 am

VW’s All-Electric Bus Has a Release Date, Tons of AI Capabilities

It's one of 20 e-cars the company plans to roll out by 2025

UPDATED 8 January 2018

We first heard rumblings that Volkswagen was planning to produce a new version of its iconic Microbus a year ago this week. And now, courtesy of an update from VW at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, we now know exactly when the spirit of the ‘60s will return to the road: 2022.

As part of a joint announcement with chipmaker Nvidia, the German automaker revealed the so-called I.D. Buzz will be infused with a variety of next-gen technologies: driver recognition, hand-gesture responsiveness and something VW calls “intelligent co-pilot capabilities” among them.

“Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the car,” according to VW CEO Herbert Diess. “Autonomous driving, zero-emission mobility and digital networking are virtually impossible without advances in AI and deep learning. Combining the imagination of Volkswagen with NVIDIA, the leader in AI technology, enables us to take a big step into the future.”

Infused with Nvidia’s intelligent Drive IX platform, the eventually self-driving Microbus is just one of 20 electric models that VW plans to roll out by 2025.

To watch the full CES press conference, head over here.


Retired hippes and roadtrippers of yore were understandbly shocked when Volkswagen’s “Emissionsgate,” “Dieselgate” — or as we like to call it, Just a Damn Mess — made international headlines in 2015, indicating there had been a broad coverup to violate the Clean Air Act by tampering with emissions results in 11 million cars worldwide.

And that scandal is still very much ongoing: the F.B.I. just arrested a VW executive in Florida, accusing him of “playing a central role in the broad conspiracy.”

That’s why when the brand announced its new autonomous concept vehicle the I.D. Buzz, built around their new all-electric platform and channeling the original Type 2, we smelt something of a “make-good,” as though the company were trying to coax back the public’s trust be resurrecting its iconic Bus in a more eco- and tech-friendly iteration.

The all-wheel-drive model’s 270-mile range, 99 MPH top speed and five second 0-60 time are impressive for a family ride, but the brand’s confidence in the 369-HP build’s self-driving skills even goes as far as to allow the driver’s seat to swivel and recline facing away from the road.

Equipped with tech VW is calling I.D. Pilot mode, the Buzz uses ultrasonic sensors, radar and cameras to pilot itself autonomously and even features a retractable steering wheel that can merge into the dashboard.

VW Self-Driving Concept Bus (8 images)

Measuring in at more than 16 feet in length, the zero-emissions (riiight) bus has electric motors at its front and rear and enough space to accommodate eight people and two luggage compartments.

Featuring other goodies like a wood floor, panoramic roof, a head-up display capable of showing information via augmented reality and mood lighting, VW thinks the Buzz concept could actually become a reality by 2025.

No mention of the scandal in this press blip, however: “The I.D. Buzz is not a retro design on 22-inch wheels; rather, we have taken the logical next step forward in development using what is in all likelihood the most successful design of its kind in the world,” says VW head designer Klaus Bischoff. “The future and origins of Volkswagen design DNA combine here to create a new icon.”

If VW does start producing I.D. Buzzes in the next decade, they better hire a third party to review their test results.